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Buying or Selling a Home This Winter? Keep These Tax Tips in Mind!
By Peta-Gay
January 8, 2016

With all of the expense that can go into buying and selling a home, it's good to be aware of what you can claim and how a home can benefit you come tax time. As  you're sitting down to the task of completing your taxes, here are a few things that you'll want to keep in mind.

Gaining from Capital Gains

In the event that you've made money off the sale of your home through a capital gain, it's possible that you may be able to exclude this amount from your tax filing. If you've lived in the home you just sold for at least two of the five years before the sale date, not having to report this amount on your taxes may come as a financial win.

Reporting Your Gain

If you have not lived in your home for two of the five years, you will have to report the sale of your home and the capital gain when you file your taxes. This is necessary whether or not you decide to claim the amount. If this happens to be the case for you, it's a good idea to educate yourself on 'Net Investment Income Tax' before filing your return so you can ensure your claim's accuracy. 

A Two-Year Claim For Capital Gain

While there is definitely a great financial benefit in not having to report your gain in all situations, it's important to be aware that you can only exclude any gain you've received from a home sale every 2 years. So, if it happens to be the case that you've moved more than once in the last few years, you will have to report any amount that you've made from these home sales.

Selling Your Home At A Loss

The boon of a capital gain is certainly ideal if you've made some money on your home, but if you've sold your home for less than you paid, you won't be able to claim this. While the end result may be a bit disheartening, this amount cannot be deducted off of your tax return.

Beyond the benefits of buying or selling your home, there are ways that your tax filing can be more pleasant next year if you know some of these tips. If you think you may be perusing the real estate market in the near future, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

Wishing You a Happy and Prosperous 2016 from the Staff of Property Locators, LLC!
By Peta-Gay
January 1, 2016

Make 2016 the year that your achieve your dream of homeownership, sell your current property for top dollar and/or earn high dividends on your income property!

3 Things That Will Absolutely Kill Your Chances for a Mortgage Approval
By Peta-Gay
January 4, 2016

If you're about to seek approval for a mortgage, you'll want to ensure you have a solid credit score and clean financial records to boost your likelihood of being approved. There are certain characteristics that lenders want to see in a mortgage applicant before they agree to give a loan, and you want to prove that you're a responsible borrower. But certain behaviors can easily tank your application and crush your home ownership dreams.

Before you seek approval, make sure your finances are in order. Avoid these three mortgage-killing habits while your lender evaluates your loan and you'll quickly find yourself holding the keys to your new home.

Using Up Most Of Your Available Credit

It can be tempting to start buying furniture when your mortgage is about to be approved, but you're better off waiting on the shopping trip until after you get the green light from your lender. Using a significant amount of your available credit – or applying for new credit – will impact your debt-to-income ratio and change your credit score. You might even end up getting yourself a higher interest rate or reducing your credit score to below the qualifying range – so don't go credit-crazy until after you're approved.

Being Late On Your Monthly Bills

Payment history makes up one third of your credit score, so you'll want to make sure you pay all of your bills on time and in full if you're looking for a mortgage. A single 30-day late payment on a bill can easily knock 50 to 100 points off your credit score. Even worse, some lenders require a full year of on-time payments before they'll even consider you for a mortgage.

Co-Signing Someone Else's Loan

Co-signing on a loan is generally risky under any circumstances, but if you're trying to get approved for a mortgage, taking on liability for someone else's debt will change your debt-to-income ratio. Being on the hook for a debt you don't own makes you look like a risk to lenders – if the primary borrower on the loan you co-signed stops making payments, you'll need to pay the loan, and that could divert your cash away from your mortgage.

Getting approved for a mortgage is a critical part of the home buying process, but too many would-be homeowners torpedo their own chances of getting a mortgage by making poor decisions. Contact a mortgage professional near you to learn how you can give yourself the best possible chance of getting approved for a mortgage.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP is Owner and CEO of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

$500 Renovations That Will Boost Your Home's Value and Speed Up Your Sale
By Peta-Gay
January 5, 2016

The idea of home renovations when you're selling your home can be unpopular because of the cost and time that can go into sprucing up a place you're about to leave behind. However, making a few simple, economical touches can go a long way to capitalizing on your home's value and making a difference in dollars. If you're curious about cheap options for an easier sale, here are a few that may make the deal a little sweeter.

Kick Up The Kitchen A Notch

With all of the time that a family spends in the kitchen, it's unsurprising that it is fast becoming one of the most important features that go into a potential buyer's interest in a home.  For less than a thousand, you may want to consider an upgraded appliance that will serve as a sparkly new selling feature or even some slightly revamped cabinet fronts that will keep the price down and the look up-to-date.

A Little Bathroom Fix-Up

With the bathroom being one of the smallest spaces in any home, it can be hard to know how to properly enhance this minimal space for maximum effect. Instead of re-doing the floor or the tub, consider the basic cost of a new light fixture and an updated mirror. Simply updating these two items will completely shift the look of an aging bathroom.

Clean Up The Carpet

With carpet making a bit of a comeback, it's certainly not going to be worth your while to replace any damage it's incurred before leaving your home. Instead of leaving things to chance, though, consider a relatively economical carpet cleaning that will drastically improve the look of your carpet and may convince potential buyers it's less worn than it is.

Lighting Is Everything

There are few things that can lend or detract from the look of a room more than the lighting you choose. While you may want to consider a new, nice fixture to change up your living room, kitchen or foyer area, a shade of light that is complimentary to the space it's illuminating will have more of an impact than anything on how your home is viewed.

Renovations may seem like unnecessary work if you're planning on selling your home in the near future, but some minor upgrades can make a huge difference on the price tag that your home sale will pull in. If you're wondering about home upgrades and other factors that will be considered in selling your home, you may want to contact a trusted real estate agent for more information.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP is Owner and CEO of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

A Quick and Easy Guide to Hiring the Best Contractor for Your Pre-sale Home Renovations
By Peta-Gay
January 7, 2016

If you're planning to complete some renovations on your home before putting it on the market, you may be unsure of the best way to go about finding the right contractor for the job. While there are probably many contractors available who can do your renovations right, here's how you can get to the bottom of who will work the best for you.

Make A Few Phone Calls

Once you've done some research and determined a short list of prospective contractors, you'll want to call each contractor to determine that they can complete your project in good time and are the right candidate for the work required. If they're not available or are cagey about your question, this can be an easy way to whittle down the list.

Arrange A Meeting In Person

While a phone interview should provide you with some good insights right off the bat, you'll also want to meet your potential contractors face to face before making any final decisions. If you get along well with the contractor and they are able to answer the questions you ask with confidence, it's a good sign that they may be the right pick for your project.

Check In On The References

Once you've decided between a few candidates, make sure you contact their former clients to determine how happy they were with the work and the contractor. Since you may have a date in mind for when you want to put your home on the market, it will be important to know if the job was completed in good time, as well as if any final issues were left hanging in the air unfinished.

Consider The Estimated Costs

Last but not least, you'll want to have each contractor break down the project and provide a projected cost for labor and materials. You should be able to get a good sense of exactly what it's going to cost and which bid is the most realistic. While it may be tempting to go for the lowest bid since you'll probably be moving soon, you'll want to strongly consider which contractor and which price will turn out the best in the end.

It can seem complicated to hire a contractor for your home renovations, but by conducting simple interviews and checking references you should be able to determine who the best person for the job is. If you're curious about renovations and how they can impact the purchase price of your home, you may want to contact a trusted real estate professional for more insights.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP is Owner and CEO of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com